Child Maintenance and Child Support

When parents separate, both parents are responsible for financially supporting the children and the costs of their upbringing.

Child support will therefore by paid, as a starting point, to the parent that has the day to day care of the children.  

Child maintenance serves the purpose of providing sufficient financial support to allow you to meet the costs of raising your children. It normally involves a regular financial payment to contribute to the child’s general living costs, but it can also cover other payments such as school fees or housing costs.

It is encouraged that families try to make arrangements between themselves before a government scheme, or in some cases, a court order is utilised.

In the event that no agreement is reached between the parents, the starting point will be for either parent to approach the Child Maintenance Service, or “CMS”. This is a government run service that will calculate the amount of child support that needs to be paid by the parent that spends a lower amount of time with the children.

The amount of child support payable will depend on various factors, such as:

  • The income of the non-resident parent;
  • The number of children that child support relates to, and their age;
  • The average number of nights that the children spend with the non-resident parent;
  • Whether there are any other children cared for by the non-resident parent.

In the event that the non-resident parent refuses to make the payments recommended by the CMS, the Child Maintenance Service will have the ability to help with the enforcement of enforcing the child support payment.

In some specific circumstances, an application can also be made to the court for child support under the Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. You can apply in the following circumstances:

  • If you have specific costs relating to the children but that are not taken into account by the CMS, such as private school fees, or if your child has special educational or developmental needs;
  • If the person that is due to pay child support earns over £156,000 gross per annum;
  • If the parent that should be paying child support lives abroad;
  • If the child lives abroad with the resident parent;
  • In the event that a lumpsum payment is required, for example, to cover the housing needs of a child.

If you would like to discuss this matter with one of our specialist solicitors, please contact us on 020 8290 7341 or 020 8290 0333 to make an appointment.


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